What is it like to live in Ottawa Canada in the Fall?
As the temperature starts to fall (pun intended), days shorten and leaves turn into vibrant colours of red, orange and yellow — experiencing autumn in Ottawa is one of the best times to live in Ottawa and visit the National Capital! But what is it like to live in Ottawa Canada in the Fall?
Spring and Summer offer months of bright and vibrant and the good weather and school vacations make it so easy to make the most of everything. But, there is often a sense of sadness when summer ends. I get it, the days are getting shorter, the summer event calendar is winding down, and the weather isn’t quite as nice. But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have plenty of fun in the fall.
To be honest – it’s my personal favourite season of all! There’s no season quite like it. From Thanksgiving to Halloween, plus all the seasonal events and food, you’ll be excited to wave goodbye to summer and say hello to what the cooler months have to offer.
Living in Ottawa in the fall, you will get a great appreciation for the changing of the seasons. Fall is just a pretty as spring, just in its own way. There is a coziness to the season as the wind gets a little fresher and we get to enjoy some of the finer treats in life. Forget the ice cream and cook-outs, this is all about baked goods and harvesting fruit and veggies in their prime. It is about appreciating the changes in nature before winter truly sets in.
In this video, I’ll be covering the top ten things to do, see and eat in the nation’s capital during the fall. There’s a ton to cover so let’s get started!
1. Outdoor Fall Activities
Ok — I know what you’re thinking, how could doing outdoor activities during the fall be THAT much different from doing them in summer? Trust me when I say, once the trees starts to change, there’s just something completely different about being outside and getting active.
I’m sure you know by now, but visiting Gatineau Park during the fall is definitely the best time to go explore if you haven’t already. There’s no place like it where you can fully immerse yourself in fall colours, while enjoying scenic lakes and lookouts. It’s so popular during this season that the park often reaches capacity limits. So popular in fact, it even has a name coined by the National Capital Commission called Fall Rhapsody, which typically takes place the end of September until the end of October. You’ll want to hike, bike, walk, canoe, kayak and picnic — all while taking in the breathtaking views that nature has to offer. This spectacular show only lasts a few weeks, so you’ll want to make sure you plan ahead!
Speaking of biking, sendoff mountain bike season in fall season before putting your bike away for the winter months. Aside from Gatineau Park, make sure you check out Camp Fortune and the National Capital Greenbelt. In the city area and the Greenbelt there is a wide range of trail difficulties, you’ll be sure to have an enjoyable afternoon no matter what the skill level. There are lots of great trails right around the region where you can seek out animals and birds. You could even go looking for fungi. Parc Omega is a popular spot with diverse wildlife and an interesting nighttime experience in the fall. Many love the accessibility of Jack Pine Trail but don’t be afraid to plan an adventure somewhere new. If you’ve never ridden the chairlift at Calabogie Peaks then I highly recommend it. Be sure to check out one of my personal favourites the spectacular Dominion Arboretum located near Dow’s Lake off Preston Street and Carling Avenue area.
The Osgoode Pathway is a brilliant multi-use route for walkers and cyclists alike that makes use of an old 1854 railway bed. You could ride the full 13 miles or just a small part. There is also a nearby bike rental for those that don’t own their own.
If you’re looking for something a little more chill and relaxed, head over downtown and explore the Rideau Canal where you’ll be able to experience fall colours by Ottawa’s historic backdrop. With a ton of parks, gardens, cafes and taverns around the area — you’ll find yourself wandering around the city’s urban core and stumble upon many hidden gems along the way.
SPECIAL MENTION: Camping – A day out in the wonders of Canadian nature is one thing. Camping out there is on another level. This will require some more planning and a free weekend. But, there are some great camping grounds within 1-2 hours of Ottawa. These sites vary from a more civilized campground camping experience to wilderness camping. This is great for those with a taste for adventure, but there is another approach for a campfire experience. Saunders Farm provides campfires where you can book a slot with friends and family and enjoy the farm’s food and hospitality – make sure to enjoy S’mores by the campfire – this popular tradition of campfire toasted marshmallows and chocolate sandwiched between two pieces of graham cracker cookies is a season highlight! A great highlight of what is it like to live in Ottawa Canada in the Fall?
2. Shop and Eat at ByWard Market
The ByWard market is now one of the oldest farmers’ markets in Canada. Featuring not just only local produce and goodies, but you can also find dining, shopping and nightlife in this old- meets-new district. Make sure to locate the BeaverTails truck in the market and bite into the warm, sugary and doughy pastry at least once during the fall to fully appreciate this Canadian classic treat.
There’s nothing quite like celebrating Thanksgiving festivities than in any other city but Ottawa — especially since this holiday normally lands during the peak of fall. For many seasonal summer activities, the Thanksgiving long weekend is typically the last day of operations for the year. Now is your last chance to experience any boat cruises and amphibian bus tours before they close up shop. And make sure you spend the long weekend on the hunt for the perfect pumpkin. There are a ton of pumpkin patches nearby like Abby Hill Farms, Fallowfield Tree Farm and Proulx Farm so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.
Is there anyone who doesn’t like Halloween? Fall means spooky season is upon us and with Ottawa’s rich (and old) history — ghost stories are lurking around every corner of the city. You’ll want to make sure you check out The Haunted Walk and take a Ghost Tour to hear some of the most chilling tales of the city’s historic landmarks like the Bytown Museum and the Fairmont Château Laurier.
If you’re looking for some with an even bigger scare factor, head over to Saunders Farm’s FrightFest. They typically feature six haunted attractions including The Haunted Hayride, The Barn of Terror, The Shambles, The Coven, The Circus of the Macabre, and The Cemetary Scare Zone. You’ll be sure to see what the screaming is all about!
Love Halloween but not a fan of the scaries? Or looking for something suitable for all ages? Then check out the award-winning Pumpkinferno event that runs typically between the end of September to October at Upper Canada Village just an hour south of the city. Featuring thousands (yes, thousands) of intricately carved pumpkins, you’ll be mesmerized by all the glow in this spectacular outdoor art exhibit. Truly a great part of what is it like to live in Ottawa Canada in the Fall.
5. Apple Picking
Enjoying fall wouldn’t be complete without visiting an apple orchard at least once this season! September means it’s the beginning of apple season — so break out your favourite apple sauce, jam, pies and dessert recipes because you’re going to end up with a mountain of apples to eat your way through.
There are a ton of apple orchards close by like Pinewood Orchards, Log Cabin Orchard, MacGRegor’s Apple Orchard and Cannamore Orchard that you won’t have to travel far to pick the fresh apples straight off the trees! Plus, many locations offer hot apple cider among other mouthwateringly delicious treats to enjoy while you get apple picking.
Fall celebrations wouldn’t be complete without making the most of a chilly Halloween night. And, no Halloween would be complete without a pumpkin. Why face the disappointment of a store-bought pumpkin when there are gigantic monsters in pumpkin form waiting for us in patches right across the region? You can find a local farm where you can pay to give one of their prized pumpkins a good home as a jack-o-lantern and all kinds of delicious goods.
6. Winter Clothes
While you’re out enjoying the cooler weather that fall has to offer and keeping warm with cozy layers, you’ll want to start prepping your wardrobe to transition to winter because boy, it will get cold. Make sure you start taking out your winter jacket, boots, hats, scarves and mitts from storage and dust off any skates and skis you have laying around. You’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for any essential winter gear needed so you’re not left out in the cold (literally) when the first snowfall hits the ground. One of the tastiest thing of what is it like to live in Ottawa Canada in the Fall.
7. Fall Home Maintenance
Winter is coming — which means you’ll want to create a fall home maintenance checklist so you can spend the winter months worry-free. With snow, ice and slush on the way, you’ll want to take the necessary precautions to prevent damage to your home from winter storms. Take care of the trees on your property to avoid branches falling, rake the leaves, clean out your gutters and eavestrough to prevent water from pooling and damaging your roof, repair any exterior damages and seal gaps to prevent small animals from burrowing in your home as they do to get away from the cold.
8. Fall Foodie Fests
You had me at the word food! From Oktoberfest to Poutine Fest and even Mac My Cheese Fest — fall brings a whole host of foodie events to the city. With no year ever being the exact same, you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for food festivals that make their way to the nation’s capital. You can typically find them at City Hall or even Sparks Street!
9. Nordik Spa
There’s nothing quite like a spa day in fall, especially when you’re surrounded by nature undergoing its annual transformation with its vibrant warm colours on display. Treat yourself by visiting the Nordik-Spa for a spa day guaranteed to leave you relaxed and rejuvenated. If there’s one pro-tip I can give you, is to check out Nordik’s Aufguss Ritual in their Finlandia sauna, where you’ll be wrapped in aromas of wood fire, eucalyptus, lavender, and orange. Can you feel yourself relaxing already?! A great way to relax and soak in what is it like to live in Ottawa Canada in the Fall.
10. The Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF)
Last but not least, fall means that The Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF) is in town! This is one of the largest animation events in the World where you can attend screenings, exhibits and workshops, as well as mingling with animators and industry execs, you’ll want to make your way over to this five-day festival.
Hopefully, this has given you a taste of what it is like to live in Ottawa during the Fall Season. There is absolutely no reason to ever feel down about the end of summer when fall brings us so many beautiful natural delights. The landscape is stunning in the autumn light with those colours of the leafs. The produce is incredible – whether we pick our ourselves and make our own desserts or take advantage of local bakers at the markets. Also, there are so many opportunities to have fun in the local area, no matter what the weather is. So, get out there this fall and see why Ottawa is the place to be this fall.